The Myth of the Magic Sports Beard

So you weren’t crazy about Super Bowl hero Cooper Kupp’s shaggy, mountainous mustaches? Neither did his family, apparently. ” I do not...


So you weren’t crazy about Super Bowl hero Cooper Kupp’s shaggy, mountainous mustaches? Neither did his family, apparently.

” I do not know what the deal is with the beard“, Craig Kupp, the father of the wide receiver of the Los Angeles Rams who was named the most valuable player of Super Bowl LVI last Sunday, the Tacoma News Tribune reported in December. “I’m not a big fan.”

But it’s hard to argue with the results. The 28-year-old broad, once an unannounced third-round draft pick from Eastern Washington University, known for his clean, altar boy looks, let his blond chin explode last season and, along the way, emerged into an unstoppable force in the NFL. He not only dominated the league’s biggest stage, but also became the first player since 2005 to win the so-called triple crown for receivers, leading the league in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

According to a recent Sports Illustrated article, he became Grizzly Adams this year simply because he was on a rolland promised skeptical family members that he would shave as soon as he had a bad game.

The problem was, as his grandmother Carla Kupp pointed out at the end of the season, “he didn’t get one.”

Call it superstition. Call it a coincidence. Call it a fashion statement to stand out as an alpha male among alpha males. But Mr Kupp, 28, is not the first athlete to raise his public profile, and apparently his game, while ditching beard trimmers.

Think of it as the James Harden effect. Player X is good. Player X grows a crazy beard. Player X is suddenly awesome. Weird, right?

At least in terms of image, that was the story with Mr. Harden, who made nearly as many headlines as Mr. Kupp last week after a blockbuster trade to the Philadelphia 76ers from the Nets. Mr Harden started his career in 2009 with a neatly trimmed beard that would barely qualify him for a barista job in Brooklyn and spent his early years as a sixth man, coming off the bench for the Oklahoma City Thunder behind his teammates stars, Kevin Durant. and Russell Westbrook.

However, as Mr. Harden’s beard grew, his basketball superpowers (or vice versa) increased, as he moved on to the Houston Rockets and became a franchise cornerstone. He won the league’s Most Valuable Player award in 2018 and, perhaps not coincidentally, became a GQ cover model with its mark Santa’s Scaled Beard, who established it as a personal branding triumph for fans wearing “Fear the Beard” T-Shirts.

A coincidence? Surely. It wasn’t Mr. Harden’s beard that was over there draining the 3 points. Even so, an impressive beard can serve a powerful semiotic function for a male athlete — or, perhaps, any man — bidding for top-dog status.

Some studies have shown that bearded men are perceived as higher status than their clean-shaven counterparts, and also more aggressive, which is certainly not the worst connotation for a latter-day gladiator. A 2016 study from the University of Queensland in Australia collected data from over 8,500 women and concluded that a full beard “indicates a man’s ability to compete for resourceswhich is useful for finding a companion, but may not apply when resources are hits.

Do you doubt the magical properties of a sports beard? Watch what happens when they disappear. Fans in barbecue country were stunned when Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, a seven-time Pro Bowler, showed up to training camp last summer with a clean shave. (“Travis Kelce shaved off his beard and lost all his rhythm and soulwrote sports journalist Josh Sánchez on Twitter.) Indeed, Mr. Kelce’s season has been a little wobbly by its high standards, inspirational headlines like “What’s wrong with Travis Kelce?”

Better not piss off the facial hair gods, apparently. Take Ryan Fitzpatrick, the widely traveled NFL quarterback. His aura as a would-be gunslinger – a fearless passer seemingly unaware of the risk – seemed to grow with every inch of his prodigious mane over the years. Mr Fitzpatrick himself has acknowledged that his monster beard is central to his image as the man behind the fourth-quarter heroics known as the “Fitzmagic.”

An outlaw beard makes an even stronger statement in the relatively genteel sport of baseball, where the megabeard has taken on talismanic connotations for some players. Brian Wilson, the former San Francisco Giants relief pitcher, went from not-the-Beach-Boys-guy to notorious late-inning assassin after embracing the intimidating Black beard watch en route to World Series glory.

In 2016, ESPN followed the rise of former Chicago Cubs ace Jake Arrieta from clean-shaven college kid to Cy Young Award winner in a step-by-step retrospective on his career. expansion of facial hair. Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner appeared to transform from Everyman to Superman once he adopted a ginger mustache explosion it made him look like a berserker coming out of a long Viking ship.

Can beard magic work for entire teams? The 2013 Red Sox forged an identity and, apparently, a spirit of unity by embracing frontier trapper beards as “not just a fashion accessory,” as The New York Times reported at the time, but as “a way to build”. stronger bonds after the struggles of the Red Sox last season,” when the team finished in last place in the American League East.

Hey, they won the World Series that year.



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Newsrust - US Top News: The Myth of the Magic Sports Beard
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